May 2007

Pentacost Monday

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Sunday Children's Day and Worship Service

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Above: Early in the afternoon, our team traveled to the village of Palotás to present our Easter puppet show in their Children's Day celebration. The weather was beautiful. We encountered a unique problem keeping our stage from being blown away by the strong steady breeze outside. Thankfully with some reinforcements and objects used as weights, the stage was secured.

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Above: A shadow puppet of Peter discovering the tomb empty and finding strips of linen cloth. Later, Jesus appears to Mary as she declares, "He is Risen!"

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Above: After the puppet show, Janka was able to explain the gospel and helped the kids gain an understanding of John 3:16.

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Above: At the close of our presentation, we distributed Christian family magazines to the children and also evangelistic materials to parents and teens.

We thank God for a successful show in the town of Palotás, and we hope to be able to return to their schools in December with our puppet ministry.

SUNDAY WORSHIP SERVICE

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Above: Elianna sporting her stylish pink plastic shades to church.

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Above: Miki taught about practical ways in which we serve. He followed the life of Jesus for examples and encouraged the church to take steps in enriching their prayer life and interaction with God in His word. He said that all true service is the natural outpouring of spending time with God. Without this intimate relationship with the Father, we are disconnected from the source of 'living' works.

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Above: Brenda and Sharon talking with Vera after service. Vera and her husband Tamás brought their house group from Budapest to visit tonight. As they see their group mature and grow in number, they are now considering ways of progressing into a church plant.

Tomorrow is a holiday in Hungary and we will be having dinner with church member Andi and her family at Miki's house. Please pray that God would have mercy on Andi's husband and cause him to be convicted of his sin that he would find salvation in Jesus Christ. Please pray for an open door to explain the gospel to him tonight.
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Saturday Children's Day

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Above: After setting up our craft, face painting and balloon table in Petőfibánya's middle school, the kids began pouring in.

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Above: The kids really enjoy the chance to have their faces painted. One of the most popular designs is the butterfly. We were thankful for being inside today with a cool breeze steadily blowing through the window. Outside temperatures are above 90 degrees. Taking part in these Children's Day Festivals gives us more exposure in the community and helps us to reconnect with some of the kids and parents from VBS. Thank you for your prayers!

Tomorrow we will be traveling to Palotás to help in their Village Day celebration. We will be presenting the Puppet show that we used this past Easter. Please pray especially for Janka who will be sharing the gospel after the show. Please also pray for a positive impact as this will be our first time serving in this village.
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Thursday & Friday

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Above: On Thursday night, we held a surprise farewell party for Gabi S. who will be moving this Saturday. Janka and Csaba shared encouraging words to Gabi from the Scriptures and we spent time praying for each other. Csaba told Gabi that God gave this time of preparation in Petőfibánya with a local church, loving fellowship and discipleship to prepare him for greater works in the future. I am hopeful as I consider how God may use him in the future, in new areas of Hungary as he grows in his faith. Gabi will continue to visit Petőfibánya through the summer as he is able. He has also committed to serve with us in our VBS this year. We are so thankful to have come to know this young man, and to see God transform his life by His grace.

After our initial time of prayer, Zoli facilitated our Bible study for Thursday night. We learned about the Lord's coming in glory and our responsibility to be ready and waiting for that imminent day. Zoli was kind enough to hold the study at his house (a first!) and clearly enjoyed practicing hospitality.

Earlier Thursday afternoon, Miki and I met with Petőfibánya's mayor. Thank all of you who were praying specifically for this meeting. The mayor praised us for our commitment to the community and told us that every time our 'name' comes up, there is something positive said. We showed the mayor some aspects of the life of our church and also asked for ways in which we could pray. He shared that although he didn't practice his religion, he was not opposed to religion. It was a very positive meeting, and we assured him that we would be praying for him and for the community on a regular basis.

FRIDAY MORNING:

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Miki, Csaba, Janka and I met at Petőfibánya's public middle school to teach a class on the art of twisting balloons into all sorts of things. Actually, Miki did all the teaching, and the rest of us tried to keep up.

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Above: How to cause chaos in the least amount of time: Give a classroom of kids balloons. I am always encouraged when I hear the kids calling us by name, and when each face is familiar. Through years of puppet ministry, Children's day outreaches and last year's VBS, these kids 'know' us and they know the message we tell time and time again. We are thankful to be God's light in this community in this generation.

FRIDAY AFTERNOON:

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Above: Just a few minutes drive away from Petőfibánya, the town of Selyp was having a children's day celebration where we were invited to participate.

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Above: Julika teaching crafts and promoting our VBS coming up in July this summer.

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Above: Miki, Csaba and Jenna clowning around in 90 degree weather. Jenna is currently visiting from the US on a short term survey trip as she pursues the possibility of serving full time in Hungary. She did a great job today surviving exploding balloons, intense heat and a ridiculous costume. It was a joy to have her with us.

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Above: Allen and Tomi. Tomi attended our VBS last year. I spoke to his mother today who said that she is trying to get a few more kids to go to our VBS this year.

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Above: Kira getting in on the fun.

Tomorrow will be 'déjá vu' as we will be helping out with a children's day celebration in our hometown of Petőfibánya. Please pray for us to be able to connect with families and that new children would hear about this year's VBS. Please pray that we would have strength as well, as the heat causes havoc on our bodies.
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Wednesday Orphanage Visit

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Above: Tonight we visited the orphanage in the neighboring town of Lőrinci.

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Above: We praise God for the warm weather that gave us the opportunity to do 'ice breakers' outside. We start off with games and group activities before getting into our Bible study. We saw that these games drew in a lot of kids who usually wonder off to be alone. We were thankful to see the 'harder' kids smiling and enjoying playing on teams.

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Above: Gabi S. and Csaba hiding the numbers taped to their backs from the kids as we played Number War. I am very thankful for Gabi's desire to serve with us in this ministry.

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Above: After game time, we transitioned into our Bible study. We talked about Jesus' authority to forgive sins, and our need to recognize Him as the Doctor who can heal us inside and out. I praise God for helping me lead the study in Hungarian tonight (I expected to do it in English with Gabi translating). I was thankful for the interaction in the study and for the understanding that the kids had after reading the Word. As I finished, I asked if any of them would be interested in having their own copy of God's Word. Five of the kids showed sincere interest and we gave them each their very own Bible. Please pray for them as I have challenged them to begin reading through the New Testament each night before they lay down to sleep. Pray that God would draw them to Himself and that His word would reveal to them His gracious plan of salvation.
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Sunday and Monday

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Above: On Sunday morning, we traveled to Budafoki Baptist church in Budapest with our Hungarian teammates to give an update on what God is doing in Petőfibánya. This is Janka's sending church and they have been supportive both in prayer and financially through the years as we church plant in Heves county.

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Above: How does this thing work anyway? Erika and Miki seeking to provide shade as we met at Janka's parents' house after morning service.

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Above: Janka also surprised Csaba (end of table in black) with a birthday cake celebrating his turning 32 on Sunday. Janka and Csaba are engaged and planning to be married in August. We are privileged to be able to meet with them on wednesday nights to provide premarital counseling. Please pray for them as they prepare to become one in marriage.

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Above: Miki dressing up Ben a bit.

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After a very delicious and filling lunch at Janka's house, we returned to Petőfibánya to set up for our worship service.

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Above: Dezső has been preparing for a few weeks from the book of Ephesians and was able to teach us tonight what he has learned. Dezső continues to cultivate the giftings that God has given to him. I am so thankful to see his growth and hunger for God's word. Dezső would love to serve full time if he could, but the reality of this stage of his life requires that he and his wife work in a local factory. Tonight, he preached after just getting off an all night shift at work. Please pray for their family to find a better work situation where they would be 'freed-up' to participate in the ministry they desire to do.

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Above: Gabi S. gave me sad news tonight. For some time now, his family has been planning on moving to help with a family business in a small town on the other side of Hungary. There official move date is this Saturday! We will continue to meet through the summer, and also at the ESL camp this year, but he will be settling down in this new village far away. We have done some investigation, and it appears that there are no churches in the vicinity of where he is moving. With such a small church, we feel the impact of such move of one of our members in a great way. Please pray for Gabi as he goes through this time of transition and that God would provide for him a means of fellowship and encouragement to grow in his faith.

MONDAY

In our Easter puppet outreach, there were a few schools that were not able to schedule us in for various reasons. Although Easter has passed, we were invited to present the puppet show in three schools. Today we visited two of them, in Becske and Balasagyarmat. We will visit the third school this Sunday in Palatas.

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Above: Miki the 'navigator'.

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Above: Miki commenting on how many bugs have lost their lives to the wrath of Brenda's bumper.

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Above: The children of Becske walking to the local community center where we held the puppet show.

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Above: Brenda getting ready for our second show in the town of Balasagyarmat. This school is responsible for children with various disabilities.

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Above: These kids payed close attention to Janka as she explained the gospel. We were thankful for warm receptions at both schools, and for their willingness to invite us back again.
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Saturday Update

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Above: After skipping some stones on the water, Gabi S, Gabi K. Zoli and I settled down for a time of prayer and Bible study on Thursday. I am thankful for being able to take the study 'on the road' as the weather has been beautiful in Hungary. It was Gabi's turn to lead, and he did an excellent job guiding us through verses about our hope in the coming of Jesus. At one point in the discussion, a question was raised about the meaning of church. I kept my mouth shut, and waited to see how Gabi would respond. He explained, "The church is not a building, but it is all of those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus lives in us, and we are the church." I rejoiced to hear his explanation.

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Above: Today, we held a Játszóház (Children's Playhouse) in the neighboring town of Selyp. Julika (seated above right in blue) is responsible for preparing the games, crafts and teaching for this outreach that we hold monthly. Today's Játszóház was based on Pentecost which Hungarians consider a holiday.

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Above: Today's memory verse: "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them." (Acts 2:4)

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Above: Zoli serving with us today. We are thankful for both Zoli and Gabi taking part in today's outreach.

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Above: Miki bringing smiles to the kids.

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Above: Ben and Miki's daughter Anna doing today's craft.

Tomorrow we will be visiting one of our Hungarian teammate's sending churches in Budapest in the morning. Please pray for safe travel, and that God would provide more prayer and financial supporting partners through the Budafoki Baptist Church.
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Sunday Worship

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Above: Julika (center in blue) with the help of PI's Area Resource Team prepared a children's worship instructional video for church planters. The children who performed in the video were all from Petofibanya. On Sunday, they were invited to perform some of the songs in church with their parents as guests. Many children who do not regularly attend our church came, but unfortunately without their parents.



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Above L: Julie played a important role in directing and teaching for the video. Above R: The children were given their own copy of the DVD.

In our worship service, we were encouraged through God's people giving testimony to His grace and provision. Dezso told the story of how he was almost killed last week while returning home on a public bus. On the back roads that weave through the mountains, the brakes on the bus gave out. Afterward, the bus driver accidently pressed on the gas as he frantically tried to stop the bus. Dezso said, "I truly thought that this was the end." At around the same time Marcsi, Dezso's wife, was just finishing her shift. While stepping outside of the factory, she felt led to pray. She didn't know why or for what, so she communed with God with the Lord's prayer. By God's grace, the bus driver (or shall we say God) stopped the bus. Praise God for protecting Dezso and all those on the bus.

Peter preached on the need for all Chrisitans to develop a lifestyle like Elijah (1 Kings 17). When Elijah was called to do something by God, he obeyed. When Elijah 'hit a wall' in the midst of his obedience, he didn't turn back or depend solely on his own abilities and wisdom to solve problems of provision. In the Kerith Valley, God provided in an unexpected way with ravens bringing bread and meat morning and evening. When Elijah's source of water dried up in that place, Elijah didn't panic and follow the stream to it's source. He didn't give up on God's calling. Instead, God tells him to go further and to find a widow who would provide. When Elijah found her, faith was once again required. The woman didn't even have enough for her own family. Elijah by this time had developed a habit of waiting when he 'hit a wall' in the midst of his calling. He didn't question God's goodness, or His sovereignty. The Bible says about Moses, "By faith he left Egypt without fearing the king's anger, for he persevered as though he could see the one who is invisible." (Heb 11:27) Elijah also persevered as though he could see the one who is invisible. We need to cultivate that type of faith when we 'hit a wall' and problems arise in our calling that are beyond our capability to solve. We need to be people who see the One who is invisible that has the power and wisdom to show us how to go further.

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Above: Daddy and Kira after church talking with Dezso.

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Above: Andi's son Milán with a big smile after receiving his very own worship DVD. Norbi, to the left of Milán in the picture is the son of Edit who for the first time came to MIki's Bible study last Thursday. Edit came towards the end of our service and said that she would have come sooner, but had to deal with her baby (who is Kira's age). Please pray for Edit and her family that they would all come to know Jesus, and that more families would be added to our number in Petfibánya.

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Above: One of the gifts I have received from God-my wonderful family. As you can see, Ben can now express with his eyes how energetic he is. He also is spiking his hair for extra effect.

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Above: Special guests! Brenda's parents are visiting and enjoying the experience of personally seeing the where, what and with who aspects of Brenda's life and ministry.
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Happy Birthday!

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Our youngest, Kira Grace turned one today and she celebrated by stuffing her face with mommies freshly baked cake. Kira is a joy to watch as her personality continues to blossom each day. She is very proficient at giving kisses to us. She also blatantly bursts out wild monkey screams to make the entire family laugh at the dinner table. Kira can now stand on her own, and can take a few steps tumbling toward our arms. She'll be walking in no time! Yikes. We praise God for these special children, and that by grace we have been entrusted to be their mother and father.

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Above: Getting kids up to speed with technology. I found it comical that this toy cell phone (Kira's birthday gift) included a button for a pretend camera phone with the good ol' shutter sound effect included. You may notice a car icon as well which triggers the sound of a car's horn. Maybe this company has some inside information on upcoming cell phones trends? (You know you couldn't resist using a car horn button on your phone...or could you?)

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Above: On Thursday, teenager Zoli and I eased up the steep part of a mountain by car (black dot above left), and walked the rest of the way close to the peak. On the way up the mountain, (after rubbernecking at the goats) we stopped to talk to one of my former English students (Hajni) who was teaching a young girl horseback riding. For two weeks now, I have been feeling terribly weak from a viral or bacterial sickness, so Zoli had to bear with my slowww pace. God used Zoli to truly encourage me as we spent time in God's word and prayed for one another. We have already begun praying for this year's English camp and the returning students that we met last year.

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Above: The view from the top of the mountain...or hill.

At around the same time, at the base of the mountain, Miki and Erika were holding their evangelistic Bible study. This study is edifying for members of our church and is a bridge for others who are not yet ready to step foot into church. One first time visitor to Miki's study was Edit, who is a mother of one of Benjamin's classmates in preschool. Edit may be the first parent that is taking steps to seek God through her son's interest. Four years ago, it was our hope that many parents would come because of their children's interest...but that was not the case. As we have established ourselves in the community with Janka teaching Bible classes in pre-school, our church holding family day events monthly, our puppet ministry, and our VBS, parents may begin responding to our invitations. Edit is the first! Please pray for many more parents of preschoolers (and preschool teachers) to be stirred to seek God and to find Him through Jesus Christ.

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Above: For those of you prayed for teenager Gabi S., thank you! He said he was relaxed when he took his finals and thinks he did well on each test (except for math). He sends his thanks as well. Today, Gabi and I decided to take a road trip and check out the site for this year's English camp in July. So, once again, it was mountain climbing (by car again), and exploring the Matra mountains (which is a relative term...Americans might call them 'hills' on the tall side of height).

Please pray for our family's health. Sharon ran out of steam yesterday at 8:00 pm (which is early for her) and could do nothing but 'collapse' into bed. She may be battling the same thing I have. Kira seems to be getting better, but is still abnormally irritable and drippy nosed (nice description). Allen feels physically week which is definitely not normal and is on a prescribed dose of antibiotics. Ben and Kira are now healthy and enjoying life, but missing being tossed into the air by the recently weakened daddy.

Please also pray for our Sunday service where we will have a special presentation for children who helped in producing a children's worship song DVD. Many kids from Petőfibánya participated and we hope that their parents will respond to the invite to church.

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Above: Ben's love for his sister. Happy birthday Kira!
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Weekly Update

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Above: With the help of a camouflaged jacket and bright green Robin Hood hat, Ben manages to capture a Hungarian tree frog. Ellie says, "Ewwwwweee". On Saturday, we were able to spend some time 'window shopping' for houses in our area. In less than 100 days, we will be returning to the US on furlough and it is our hope to move into a new residence in Petőfibánya before returning on furlough. With three kids, we have outgrown our apartment space and hope to find a home that would be a blessing for our family and for our ministry. Please pray that God would direct our steps, and that He would provide according to His timing and His will.

Tonight I preached on the presence of God which is too often ignored in our lives. Here are some words from tonight's sermon:

"What are you pursuing above all in your life? Are you pursuing 'things' today or are you pursuing the Creator of all things? Are you focusing all your thoughts, all your passion, all your energy on work, or school, or relationships with people, or worries, or questions that you have forgotten that Jesus is standing in the same room?

Are you letting anxiety and worry rule over you tonight, or are you answering God who is present, Who says to you as He once said to the apostles,  "Come with me privately to an isolated place and rest a while" (Mark 6:31)

"Come with me privately to an isolated place and rest a while" (Mark 6:31)

I often find myself getting busy with so many things that I forget the most important thing. I often spend so much time rushing, working, talking that I begin to ignore the One who is present. My Lord and my God.

Isa 30:15 says: "For this is what the master, the LORD, the Holy One of Israel says: "If you repented and patiently waited for me, you would be delivered; if you calmly trusted in me you would find strength, but you are unwilling."

I need, and you need to make private time with our Lord a priority in our lives. We need to listen to His voice that says, "If you repented and patiently waited for me, you would be delivered; if you calmly trusted in me you would find strength..."

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Above: After the message, Janka and Julika helped the kids with a special presentation for mother's day.

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Above: A visiting mother and grandmother being presented with Mother's Day gifts.

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Above: Julika also taught us how to make a hand craft with a Bible verse as a gift for the mothers who could not make it.

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Above: Zoli, Ádám and Gabi S. Please pray for Gabi who has finals this week in school. I have seen some of the things he will be tested on, and it is tough! Please pray, as his first test is tomorrow, and he will have subsequent tests throughout the week. Finals were definitely not my favorite part of school.

Other Prayer requests: Sharon seems to be feeling better, while Allen and Kira continue to be sick. Please pray for healing in our family. Our teammate Brenda's parents arrived in Hungary tonight. Please pray that she would have a blessed time with her parents. Recently, Brenda lost hot water in her apartment and has been trying to get it fixed for the past four days. Please pray that it would be fixed soon.
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Thursday Update

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Above: Ben participating in a special Mother's Day presentation at his preschool. It was funny seeing Ben's face as he had trouble locating Sharon in the audience. When he finally saw where she was, his face lit up. The show consisted of various songs and poems of appreciation for mom.

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Above: Zoli standing in the middle of the 'remains' of Petőfibánya's public pool which was a full of life over 50 years ago. Apparently, they couldn't maintain it and now it is surrounded by weeds, overrun with moss and stands to offer only an echo of the past. Zoli and I used the abandoned cement pool steps as our meeting place for prayer and Bible study. Though we are often discouraged by our failures, and sometimes turn away from opportunities to live in the righteousness of Christ, we still have hope. Zoli and I talked about the grace of God, and his commitment to us as His redeemed children in Christ. We learned about the faithfulness of God and His commitment to strengthen our faith until the coming of Jesus.

"He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into fellowship with his son, Jesus Christ our Lord."  (1 Cor 1:8-9)

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Above: After our study, we had some fun chasing this guy around the empty pool.

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Above: Ben is back to his normal energetic self and fully recovered from Scarlet Fever. Allen is on the road to recovery from a head cold, while Sharon and Kira are experiencing the beginning phases of the sickness. Elianna somehow managed to escape all the bacteria and viruses running around our family. She is healthy and happy as can be. Please pray for healing for our family!

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